Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Weekend of Giving

Today is the Spring Equinox, and traditionally yogis across the globe ring in the new season with a ritual known as "Yoga Mala", the performing of 108 sun salutations.  The Mala's repetitive movement leaves practitioners in an almost trance-like state, clearing the mind for meditation on intentions for the coming months.  It is a Spring Cleaning of sorts~perhaps more of a Spring Clearing for the body and mind.

This past weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to participate in not one, but two, phenomenal charity events.  On Saturday, I team-taught a flow class benefiting Operation Shanti with several other amazing South Bay yoga teachers.  My friend, Garth Hewitt, organized the event after a trip to India inspired him to help the non-profit organization build an orphanage for children in Mysore, the birthplace of modern Yoga.  Over the course of an afternoon, the event raised over $8,000 via class fees, raffle tickets, and auction items.

On Sunday, my fiance and I sat at two computers, simultaneously bidding on Ebay auction items for another friend's charitable foundation.  My dear friend Rachel Tiep-Daniels, an artist formerly at Dreamworks and currently working for Blue Sky studios, volunteered at an orphanage in Ghana a few years ago.  Returning home, she felt compelled to help this community of beautiful children she had grown so close to over just a few short weeks.  In partnership with a fellow artist, she formed the Picture Book Project Foundation.  Their most recent fundraising project was "Art Blocks for Ghana", an Ebay auction featuring original drawings and paintings from (I'm guesstimating) over a hundred talented artists from all of the major animation studios~Dreamworks, Pixar, Disney, Blue Sky, etc.  The auction ended on Sunday, culminating in tens of thousands of dollars raised for the education of these children in Ghana and, no doubt, many (including us!  yippee!) very happy donors who are the proud owners of some fabulous new artwork!

This weekend reminded me, yet again, of the immense power that one inspired person can have, if they simply follow through on their intentions and ask those around them for assistance.  I think that if we are to change this world for the better, it really has to begin there~with hardworking, caring, inspired individuals and generous friends around them willing to lend support.  Perhaps as we begin this Spring season, we should be asking ourselves, "What inspires me?"  "How can I contribute?"  "And who can I ask for help?"  One of my favorite quotes is Margaret Mead's "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."  Happy Spring, friends!

For further info on these two awesome non-profit organizations, please visit http://www.operationshanti.org/ and http://www.picturebookproject.com/Photo credit:  Rachel Tiep-Daniels. All rights reserved.
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